U.S. airlines are warning passengers that bags with built-in lithium battery power chargers, called “smart bags” may cause a problem when checking in. American Airlines announced at the end of November a new policy for such bags.
“As part of safety management and risk mitigation, we always evaluate ways to enhance our procedures, and the Safety team at American has conducted its own analysis of these bags. Beginning January 15, customers who travel with a smart bag must be able to remove the battery in case the bag has to be checked at any point in the customer’s journey. If the battery cannot be removed, the bag will not be allowed. If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed. No additional action will be required, as long as the customer powers off the smart bag in accordance with existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. However, if a customer is required to check their smart bag, the customer will need to remove the battery. This policy will apply to all American and American Eagle flights.”
Lithium batteries are a danger everywhere on an airplane because they may catch fire. But it’s generally considered safer to have them in the cabin, where crews can easily extinguish flames, than in the cargo hold. Other U.S. airlines are now considering changes to their policies, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection and Alaska Airlines.